What is headspace?

The headspace model, developed in Australia, creates stand-alone, integrated care sites for young people ages 12-25 to access early mental health supports, along with school support and web-based connectivity.  These programs improve young people’s mental, social, and emotional wellbeing through the provision of high quality, integrated, age-appropriate care for teenagers, young adults, and their families who are facing early life challenges—whether they are issues like relationship breakups, bullying, sexual orientation, depression, anxiety, or other mild-moderate health conditions. headspace approaches youth wellness in a comprehensive and youth-friendly way, reaching them in clinical sites, online, and in schools.

Core components

1) Mild- Moderate

A Focus on Mild-Moderate

The focus on mild–moderate mental health issues is the essence of the headspace model and fills a significant gap in adolescent public mental health service provision. In addition, if the young person needs a higher-level behavioral health service, linkages are made to the community behavioral health system for more intensive intervention.

2) Integrated Care

Integrated Care Services: Mental Health, Physical Health, Substance Use, and Education/Vocational Support

The provision of integrated care services (including linkages for substance abuse and supported education/employment services) allows for “one-stop shopping” for young people while also taking on the stigma issues related to being seen for a mental health related service. Furthermore, given the high frequency of comorbid health and mental health related conditions for young people, linking these services makes sense.

3) location


headspace centers are stand-alone sites with their own entrance/exits. Part of the success of headspace is that young people see the program as their own independent place for mental health/health care. Also, by standing alone but still linking to the national headspace brand, each site is able to also reflect the unique adolescent/young adult culture of each geographic community being served.

4) Direct Marketing

Marketing Directly to Adolescents/Young Adults

Critical to breaking down stigma and other barriers to access is strategic marketing and advertising campaigns that include linkages to musical events, the involvement and voice of youth leaders, and ties to activities of interest to adolescents and young adults. In addition, marketing research and investments are made to ensure that messaging specifically targets the appropriate cultural group.

Service Channels

headspace centers

One stop shops for youth health care which include key elements of primary care, mental health, alcohol/drug, and vocational/ educational support.


Confidential, free and secure online space where young people or their families can chat, email or speak on the phone with a qualified youth mental health professional

School support

Prevention and postvention support services for schools affected by suicide.

Why headspace?

Nearly 50% of all mental health conditions have their onset by the age of 14 and 75% by the age of 24.  Half of adolescents meet the criteria for a mental disorder at some point and 79% of youth and young adults with mental health issues do not access care. Unfortunately, the United States (US) lacks a comprehensive, reliable system of early socio-emotional care and support for adolescents to easily access early health and mental health services in an environment that speaks to their unique developmental and cultural needs. This lack of early mental health services is creating tragic and expensive consequences in communities across the country. The current US mental health system is not resourced to detect and prevent emerging and mild to moderate mental health issues, despite their astonishing prevalence. Young people with emerging mental health issues have difficulty finding timely treatment and a service system that can respond quickly and confidentially to their needs. Because of this lack of early intervention and the prevailing stigma surrounding mental health treatment, young people often do not reach our health, social service, or justice systems until their mental health problems have become more severe and often more difficult and costly to treat.

Video: headspace model

Examples in Other Countries

What is the role of the Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health & Wellbeing?

With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Stanford Psychiatry's Center for Youth Mental Health & Wellbeing is leading the effort to bring the headspace model to the US by building a community-academic partnership that has the potential to develop a nationally replicable model for supporting adolescent and young adult mental health with an early intervention infrastructure that does not currently exist. The Center is in the process of creating infrastructure and partnerships to pilot the very first US implementation of the headspace model by opening two headspace centers in two geographically and socioeconomically diverse locations within the San Francisco Bay Area.

Current Efforts

  1. Business plan development
  2. US marketing campaign development
  3. Youth advisory board development
  4. Building the network of clinical & community partners
  5. Crafting a thorough evaluation plan.

Contact Us

For more information on these activities, or if you are interested in becoming a collaborative partner, please contact:

Vicki Harrison, MSW

Manager, Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing
Manager of Community Partnerships
Stanford Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


Steven Adelsheim, MD

Director, Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing
Director of Community Partnerships
Stanford Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences